December 20, 2017

Best Comic Books of 2017

Written and illustrated by Melanie Gillman

Thirteen-year-old Charlie Lamonte is queer, black, and questioning her belief in God. Needless to say, things get uncomfortable quickly when she agrees to spend a week at an all-white Christian backpacking camp. Will she ever find someone who understands her point of view? The colored pencil illustrations are full of heart and Gillman demonstrates a keen sense of light and shadow that pairs well with the textual narrative.

Written and illustrated by Benjamin Renner

Through watercolored, comic-style illustrations, this book tells the tale of a fox who dreams of being the terror of the barnyard, but ends up being Mommy to three baby chicks instead. And of course, there's Wolf, who won't stop hounding Fox about wanting to eat the baby chicks, and the local farm that's been on high-alert ever since Fox stole the chicks. So in the midst of all these hard decisions, what's Fox supposed to do when he finds himself actually caring for the baby chicks?

Created by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

From the inside, life in Sunrise Valley seems peaceful. But lurking outside the city's walls is a terrible fog with a knack for murder. The inhabitants of Sunrise Valley remain safe, though, because of the dam, a machine that Pig's father built –– right before he disappeared into the fog and was never seen again. Now Pig is the dam keeper and people in the city have all but completely forgotten about the fog until a new threat arrives and forces Pig and two friends to set out on an adventure of a lifetime. This is the first book in a series of the same name.

Lighter Than My Shadow
Written and illustrated by Katie Green
Katie has always been a picky eater, but as she grows up and enters high school and then college, she finds herself continuing to struggle with body dysmorphia and anorexia. Based on the true story of author Katie Green's battles during her formative years, Lighter Than My Shadow is a raw, honest, and deeply self reflective graphic memoir about struggling to understand oneself and learning how to seek out help and recovery.

Written and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani

Priyanka Das has lived her life filled with questions. Who is her father? Why did her mother leave India many years ago? And why won’t she talk about it? Pri thinks she’ll have to live her whole life surrounded by mystery until she discovers a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she puts it in she’s transported straight to India, guides included. But is this truly the India her mother left?

Real Friends
Written by Shannon Hale and illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were small, but one day Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, leader of a circle of elite and popular friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's number one, though, and some girls even result to bullying to stay on top. Every day is a roller coaster for Shannon as she learns how hard it is to find her real friends and why it's worth the journey. 

The Spill Zone series
Written by Scott Westerfeld and illustrated by Alex Puvilland

Addison provides for her sister by selling her illegal photographs of the mysterious and deadly Spill Zone, but when she gets an offer that's too good to refuse, Addison takes a risk that might be one step too far. Not to mention, her sister is definitely up to something and far less innocent than she seems. With a creepy vibe and a story riddled with intrigue, this book is an intriguing start to the series and one I highly recommend for fans of light horror.

Written and illustrated by Tillie Walden

Ice skating is a central part of Tille's identity, acting as a safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But soon it loses its sparkle and and she begins to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fits into her life. A graphic memoir, we get an in-depth and relatable look at what it means to her to accept and share the more intimate parts of herself with others, including her sexuality.

Written by Ginger Ly and illustrated by Molly Park

Suee has always been a loner, and that doesn't change much when she transfers to Outskirts Elementary. Especially given that bullied kids (called Zeroes) end up turning into zombies. But when her shadow suddenly comes alive and forms an evil plan, Suee realizes just how much is at stake in this small, creepy town. This book has an eerie vibe that makes it perfect for young readers of the horror genre.

Where's Halmoni?
Written and illustrated by Julie Kim

Two young children set out to visit their grandmother and quickly find themselves on an unexpected journey through a fantastical world full of Korean folklore. In this early reader comic, builds  a well-rounded world in which the story is accessible, the dialogue is easy to follow, and there's plenty to look at in every single panel. It guides young readers through the process of learning to read panels and understand visual narratives, and it's truly a gem of a book that defies categorization (many say it's a picture book).

To read my interview with author-illustrator Julie Kim, click here.

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